Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

A Matter Of Time

Summary:
A TLYDF Recommendation, Nominated for Immortal Cookie Award, Won Best Imprint in the Silent Tear Awards Two weeks and the whole world can change. Caius and Jane led an insurrection against Aro and are making a mad power grab. Renegades from the wolf pack, unhappy with the treaty with the Cullens, are attacking vampires at every opportunity. Jacob and Renesmee are struggling with the paradox of imprinting. Edward, Bella and all the Cullens must come together to protect the world they've come to love. A tale of action, deceit, intrigue and sexual awakening.


Notes:
Stephanie Meyers owns all things Twilight. My thanks to all the wonderful people at PTB who helped with this story.


6. Chapter 6 Halcyon

Rating 3.7/5   Word Count 3899   Review this Chapter

Leah

My life was crap. Total crap. It’d sucked for a long time, but it had officially become unbearable.

There were a ton of reasons why I left the reservation. ‘Left the reservation’. Isn’t that what political pundits call it when someone within the party goes off message? When they stop spouting the official line? Well, that was me. I stopped spouting the official line. I was done with the bunch of them. And I literally left the reservation.

I’d had it with the pity I received from my aunts, of which I had many. I had become ‘the girl that Sam left’. Within the pack, I was always ‘the girl werewolf’, tolerated but never included. Jacob, the one person who might have understood me, and at least treated me like an equal, was missing in action. He was too caught up in babysitting a baby vampire, for chrissakes. I’d always thought that if perhaps Jacob hadn’t been so enamored by Bella, and now her daughter, that things could have different between us. Even Seth, my brother was in love with those leeches.

When my mother moved in with Charlie, it felt like a betrayal. I couldn’t expect her to grieve Dad forever, but, Jesus, the father of the freaking vampire queen? I didn’t want anything connecting me to those leeches. I was surrounded by the bloodsuckers, when every cell of my being was telling me that they were dangerous and untrustworthy. That it would only be a matter of time before they showed their true colors.

They hadn’t told me that being part of the wolf pack would make me barren. I found out that charming little fact all by myself. Then Sam and Emily had a baby. A perfect, chubby little boy. At every gathering, the perfect happiness radiating off the new family burned a hole in my soul. I needed distance and I needed a lot of it. I left the reservation, driving an old Taurus with three hundred bucks in my pocket, vowing never to come back.

I knew Debbie Burke from school so when her brother, Jason, told me she was living in San Francisco and looking for a roommate, I was there. She had a tiny apartment in a walk-up in SoMa. I got the sleeper sofa in the living room, but was glad to have it. I found a job at a convenience store around the corner, so my life fell into a routine of working the store during the day and hitting the bars with Debbie at night. Since we couldn’t afford the cost of mixed drinks, we’d sneak in a bottle of vodka in my purse and then order cokes all night. We’d spike the cokes and spend the night dancing with a string of low quality men. Once in a while I’d find one I liked enough to bring home for a night of sweaty sex, but they were always gone by morning.

It was mid-May when I lost my job. I’d been late too many times; it was just that the hangovers were getting brutal. I pondered my shrinking wallet, and considered the unpleasant possibility of going home. In a true spirit of denial, we decided to make a big night of it and dressed up to hit the 26 Mix in the Mission District.

Debbie had a waitressing job so it was past eleven by the time we got there. The cavernous club was packed; the music was deafening. Debbie got asked to dance almost immediately so I navigated my way through the packed bodies to the bar to order a beer.

Sipping my beer and clinging to a column, I watched the writhing bodies on the dance floor. I casually checked out the guy who came and leaned over on the other side of the column. Brown, sandy hair and dressed reasonably well in jeans and a leather jacket. Worth a shot.

He caught my eye and leaned over to yell above the music. “Hi.”

“Hi,” I yelled back.

He moved closer. “What’s your name?”

“Leah. What’s yours?”

“Chad. Are you from around here?” he asked.

“No.” I shook my head. “I’m from up north, Washington.”

“You look Native American. Are you?”

Oh, one of those. Some guys found that fact fascinating. I found that the guys who did, were usually not fascinating at all. Still I answered, “yes.”

“What tribe?”

“You probably haven’t heard of it,” I yelled. He looked at me expectantly. “Quileute,” I finished.

He nodded, as if he was expecting that answer. He looked over his shoulder to the bar area. Following his gaze across the crowded room I saw several people where his gaze pointed, a couple with their heads together and one man, drinking alone in a silk suit, fedora and sunglasses. Sunglasses in a bar, a silly pretension.

“Listen,” Chad said. “I know this is odd, but I have a job offer for you.”

This would be ripe, no doubt. “What kind of job?” I asked skeptically.

Chad laughed at the doubting expression on my face. “No, really,” he chuckled. “It’s doing admin assistant work. I was told to give you this card.” He handed me a business card. “And this for your trouble.” He handed me a fifty dollar bill.

People don’t pass out jobs and money in bars. “Who told you?”

“That guy over there,” he pointed with his thumb at the bar. I looked again. The couple was still there, but the suit and sunglasses man had disappeared.

I looked at the money and the card. “Really,” Chad yelled, “you should check it out. If that guy is throwing money around, I’d want to be in a position to catch it.” He saluted me with his beer and pressed into the crowd.

Debbie came off the dance floor and I stretched the fifty between my fingers to wave it in her face. Her eyes widened and she yelled, “How did you get that?”

“You won’t believe me when I tell you. C’mon, let’s get some shots.” We headed to the bar.

It was noon of the next day by the time I dragged my sorry ass out of bed. My purse contents were scattered on the floor, and I groaned as I picked them up. The card Chad had given me flashed at me. That’s when I read it.

Col. Martin Freed, ret.Security OfficerHalcyon Corp.

There was a phone number on the bottom, but nothing else. I padded into the kitchen, examining it.

Debbie was there, scarfing down some cereal. She saw me looking at the card. “So, are you going to call him?”

“No. It’s probably something really sketchy.” I reached for the coffeepot.

“You’re nuts, man. You should call him, at least check it out,” she urged me.

“Coffee first,” I moaned.

It was another two days before I called. If I hadn’t been down to my last twenty bucks, I probably would have blown it off. I still expected the worst so I was surprised when a very professional sounding receptionist answered the phone, and put me through to Colonel Freed’s secretary. She said she’d been expecting my call and asked me to come in the following day for an interview. She gave me an address in the Presidio.

The next day I put on the one skirt I owned and drove my tired Taurus to the address. The building was all chrome and glass. The lobby area and receptionist desk were manned by no less than three burly guards.

They gave me a security badge and directions to the fifth floor. I fingered the badge nervously as I watched the elevator’s floor numbers flash by. I was met at the elevator door by a forty-ish woman in a dress suit, that cost more than my Taurus, and perfect hair and make-up.

“Leah, I’m so pleased to meet you.” She held out her hand for me to shake. “I’m Ruth Daudry and I’ll be meeting with you today.”

She led me over to a desk and asked me to take a seat. “Fill this out, would you, dear?” she said, as she handed me a clipboard with a standard job application.

“Alright.” I took the clipboard and proffered pen tentatively.

“I’ll be back in fifteen minutes. If you don’t understand a question, leave it blank and we’ll go over it when I return.” She turned and walked down the corridor.

I took a moment to survey my surroundings. I was sitting at a desk in another reception area, with corridors branching out. All the doors along the corridors were closed, but I could hear some voices and telephones ringing. The buttons on the phone on the desk flashed feverishly.

The desk was solid and well made. The swivel chair felt like leather. The windows looked out over the city. Pretty posh.

I’d finished the application when Ruth returned and led me into a small conference room.

Her pencil drummed against the table as she looked over what I had written. I watched nervously with my hands in my lap.

“Well, this looks very good,” she said, looking at me over the top of her glasses. “The job is for an administrative assistant. There will be filing, some phones, some data entry. The hours are nine to five. We’ll start you at forty-five a year. Would that be acceptable?”

“Forty-five a year?” I didn’t understand.

“Forty-five thousand a year, dear.” Her eyebrows raised. “Salary. Acceptable, yes?”

I hurried to cover my surprise. That was twice what I’d ever earned. “That will be fine.”

She stood up. “So we’ll see you next Monday.”

“Great.” I stood up, then hesitated by the door. This was all happening at a lightning speed. “May I ask you a question?”

“Sure.” Her polite smile didn’t reach her eyes.

“Why me?”

“Dear?” she asked, as if she didn’t know what I meant. There was more bubbling beneath the calm professional exterior than she was letting on.

“This job found me. I’m just wondering why. What makes me so special?”

Her eyes became guarded, but the smile didn’t change. “We’re government contractors. We’re required to hire a certain amount of minorities. You’re Native American, yes?”

“Yes,” I answered slowly.

“Well, there you go,” she said, as if that explained everything.

Somehow I could tell she was lying. There was more to it than that, I was sure. Her face was fixed in the same polite mask, and it was obvious she wasn’t giving anything up. I decided I was too broke to look a gift horse in the mouth.

She gestured toward the door. “Come, let me show you the way out.”

That’s how I started working at Halcyon. Over the next three weeks, Ruth instructed me on how to answer the phone, how to file and other office basics. The job seemed ridiculously easy for the salary they were paying me.

The company provided security services to corporations and overseas companies. I did a lot of expense report and requisition filing. I ate lunch with a few of the younger girls from accounting, but I never met with them after work.

I took Debbie out for a nice dinner with my first big paycheck. That’s when she told me that she was moving in with Kevin. I found my own apartment, a one bedroom in the Marina part if the city. I stopped hitting the bars so heavily, having lost my drinking partner.

That’s when the dreams started. I was always in wolf form but sometimes I’d be running after someone, without ever being able to catch them. Or I’d be running from someone monstrous, never able to see their face. I’d wake up with my heart pounding and my hands shaking. I didn’t want to phase, I didn’t want to think or dream about phasing. I wanted to leave anything and everything connected with the reservation behind, and that included this crazy supernatural crap.

I had loved being part of a pack. I loved the exhilaration of running full speed through the forest, jumping roots and dodging branches at incredible speeds. Moving with precision towards a target as a group. Knowing I was part of an incredibly rich, magical heritage. What I’d come to hate was how your life, with all it errors and mess-ups, was laid out for all to see. And as the pack grew larger, the more I’d see the pity and condescending looks. I needed some time to heal, alone and without an audience. I thought I’d found that in San Francisco, but I was wrong.

Colonel Freed was our department head. He was definitely an ex-military type; short butch hair, shoes always shined and shirt neatly pressed. He was a lot like Ruth, when he smiled you never saw it in his eyes. He often seemed to seek me out to say hello during the day. It left me a bit puzzled, but I didn’t get the feeling he was a letch.

I was surprised when he called me into his office one day. I thought he’d finally caught on to how little I was actually doing and was going to fire me. That’d be bad news. I’d gotten rid of the Taurus and now I had a sweet little Honda with car payments to make.

I knocked on his door. “Leah, come in. Sit down.” He stood with his hands behind his back, facing out the window. “Do you like working for Halcyon?” he asked conversationally.

“Yes, very much,” I mumbled, waiting for my fears to be confirmed.

He came and perched on the corner of the desk. “Leah, I am a strong believer of people living up to their potential.” He stared into my eyes, like he was trying to read my mind. “I think that you have great potential, great untapped potential.”

“Um, thank you?” I said, my voice rising. Where was he going with this?

He moved around the desk and sat down. “Did you know that Halcyon works with the federal government to assist them in domestic anti-terrorist activities?”

“No, I didn’t know that.” Isn’t that kind of information classified?

“We do. All kinds of activities. We work with Homeland Security.” He was gauging my reaction to this information. I did my best to keep my face smooth and unconcerned. I was suspicious of this sudden interest in sharing, so I switched into my ‘enigmatic, stoic red man’ mode.

He sat back in his chair, tented his hands together and watched me for a moment. Then reaching into a desk drawer, he pulled out a file folder. He pushed it across the desk. “Leah, I want you to look at these pictures. Let me tell you, they are unpleasant.”

I looked at the folder. I didn’t really want to touch it.

“These pictures are the victims of a certain kind of terrorist that we’ve been tracking. Go ahead, look at them.”

I opened the file cover. The first picture was of a young woman, bright red hair, lying awkwardly on the floor, her eyes shut. It struck me she was dead. The next picture was of another corpse, this one an older man, turned sideways, his arms twisted impossibly. I felt a twinge as I remembered my dad, who had died 7 years ago. There were several dozen other pictures under those, but I’d seen enough.

I looked up at the Colonel, who was peering at me intently.

“You can’t tell from the pictures, but these victims all had one thing in common.”

I looked at him, confused. I still couldn’t see where this was headed.

“The bodies were drained of blood.” He watched my face intently.

I felt my stomach lurch, and my face drain. I closed the file and sat back in my chair. He knows. He knows everything.

He got up from the desk and moved back to stare out the windows, clasping his hands behind him. “We’ve been aware for some time that there are ancient terrors out there, hiding among us.”

He turned to me. “They are taking lives; mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. I’ve been put in charge of trying to find a way to stop them.” He moved into the chair next to mine and put his hand on my arm. “You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You can help us, Leah. I am aware of your heritage, your powers. You have a unique skill set, one designed to fight these monsters. That’s what they are, Leah, and you know it.”

“How did you know?” I whispered, my mind reeling.

“We’ve known for a while. We just never had a way to fight them before.”

Something clicked in my brain. I stared at the desk in front of me. “This is why I was hired, wasn’t it?”

He sat back in his chair and looked at me, smiling. “You didn’t think your secretarial skills were that good, did you?”

“No,” I whispered. I moved to get out of my chair. I needed some time to think.

He stepped in front of my path to the door. His words became faster; I could see he needed to convince me. “We need you, Leah. You’d be heading up your own unit. You’d get a security clearance, an upgrade in pay grade. A company car.” He let that sink in, and then switched tactics. “Here is the chance for you to serve your country, in a job that only a Quileute could accomplish.”

Money, flattery, a call to patriotism. What next? I moved to sidestep him

He stepped closer to me. His voice became disdainful. “Are you really going to let the vampires roam free, with no consequences?”

That’s what they were doing, wasn’t it? I met his eyes. He could see he’d finally struck home with that argument.

“Filthy bloodsuckers,” he said softly. “It’s payback time, isn’t it?” He cocked his head to one side.

I thought about all the hikers I’d seen taken out by Victoria and her army. The trail of bodies left by Volturi visits. Granted, the victims weren’t Quileutes but they were innocents all the same.

I thought about Bella, that heartless bitch. The way she’d dragged Jacob around. The whole family of Cullens. No, regrettably they were untouchable. I’d honor the treaty. I’d make sure they were unmolested. Anybody else though was open game.

Murderous, stinking vampires. They had a lot to answer for.

He smiled triumphantly as I felt my face change into a grim smile. “We’ll begin immediately.”

***

A month later, I’d gone to La Push to recruit other pack members. I knew just who would be enthusiastic about the chance to get off the reservation and make a difference in the war against our enemies. People who hadn’t been cozy with the Cullens. People who were as repulsed as I was by the seemingly endless line of murders.

I snuck into La Push in the black Lexus Freed had given me. I wasn’t ready to face my mother, my brother or any of my onetime friends. I was hoping to quickly slide in and out of town. I was looking in particular for Solomon Hatch. He’d been one of the most vocal detractors of the Cullens, and he ran with a group that was just generally discontented with tribal politics, and the treaty with the Cullens in particular.

I found the group of them hanging out at the north end of First Beach. It was another damp and rainy day and the five of them were huddled around a van, watching the few souls stubborn enough to brave the waves. They were suitably impressed by the Lexus and I regaled them with stories about the high life in the city. I asked them about the tribal council that operated separately from the elders’ councils. The one that Sam Uley ran, out of the public eye and that governed the wolf pack.

Solomon made a disdainful noise. “That bunch of pansies? We have the greatest concentration of bloodsuckers living right next to us and what are we doing? Nothing!”

Del Cleveland, sitting next to him nodded. “The Cullens are a magnet. How long before some rival group of vamps come by and threaten the whole tribe? Instead, we’ve been protecting them, fighting on their side? We should have let the gang of leeches tear each other apart.”

Jimmy Morganroth spoke up. He was the quiet one, but also the smartest. “We should form our own pack. You were there when Jacob did it, Leah. How did he do it?”

“Well, I think he just decided to. It’s not like he had to fight Sam or anything,” I said. “Listen, if you guys are really interested in putting down some vamps, I’ve got an offer for you.”

They all leaned in to listen. It was an easy sell; they were all chomping at the bit to get away from under Sam’s thumb. There were so many in the wolf pack and damn little for them to do. It wasn’t any wonder that they were eager to use the power they had. We made arrangements for them to meet me in San Francisco in a week, where we’d get them started with Halcyon.

I became the Alpha. I had to fight Solomon for it, but my fighting experience and speed trumped his larger size in the end. I just wanted it more, this time I wasn’t playing second fiddle to anyone.

Our first gig was in Romania. We flew over there in a military plane. The intelligence we received on where to find the vamps was spot on. We quickly destroyed a pair of them, and we celebrated on the way home. My pack was jubilant that they had found a way to use the power they’d been given. Next we journeyed to Atlanta, which went down amazingly well. I think it made us all a bit cocky. We didn’t have quite the same success in Egypt, two of them escaped but we did kill the other two.

The target in Boston was a single female. We tracked her as she hunted and cornered her in Franklin Park. She growled as we surrounded her in the dark woods, out of sight from the footpaths. “Caius sent you, didn’t he?” she snarled.

We continued the slow tightening of our circle around her. Her eyes flickered from left to right, trying to watch all six of us at once. “I heard he was picking us off, I never guessed he’d be using werewolves.” She feinted to the left but Jimmy blocked her. There would be no escape for her.

Her face became resigned, but within it I read a strange kind of peace. She looked me in the eye and raised her chin defiantly. “You tell Caius he can go to hell.” She straightened up and closed her eyes. We took her down.

My mind picked at her words as we drove to our next mission. Caius was such an unusual name, I recognized it from somewhere but it escaped me.

I was getting an uneasy feeling about the work that we’d been doing. Was this really what it seemed at face value? Why was Colonel Freed the only official who seemed to know anything about our operation?

After this next mission in Alaska, I’d get some answers.